NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The American Red Cross is facing a major shortage of disaster volunteers. Now, the Nashville Area chapter is urging those in Middle Tennessee to consider taking action by lending a hand.

Severe weather is part of a worsening national trend. The American Red Cross has responded to nearly twice as many large disasters across the country as it did a decade ago.

“Currently across the nation, we’re facing an unprecedented need for disaster volunteers, given the increase in frequency and intensity of these disasters,” said Henry Pipes, the disaster program manager for the Nashville Area chapter.

The chapter is looking for more local disaster relief volunteers who want to make a lasting impact for others. Volunteers make up about 90% of the American Red Cross workforce, helping to provide immediate support to neighboring localities and even other countries in times of need.

“That would include more recently Maui, we had a few volunteers deployed out there. We had a couple folks deployed up to support with Hurricane Lee, supporting with Hurricane Idalia,” said Pipes. “We’re doing our best, in times of blue sky here in Nashville, when it’s relatively calm in terms of disasters, we can use this window of opportunity to train up volunteers.”

Volunteers serve communities dealing with floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires, as well as back-to-back disasters sometimes. In the Tennessee region, officials are training those who want to help to respond to local and national disasters.

If you’re interested in helping, there will be in-person informational and training sessions at the Nashville Area chapter, located at 2201 Charlotte Avenue, on Friday, Sept. 22:   

  • Information session from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
    • This session will provide a general overview of opportunities for volunteers to get involved in the Disaster Cycle Services Team, with a focus on upcoming deployment opportunities and explaining the onboarding process.
  • “Shelter Fundamentals” and “Feeding Activity Introduction” from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
    • “Shelter Fundamentals” is a basic level course that will introduce participants to working in shelters, as well as describe the shelters’ structures and operations, the important functions that occur in shelters, and tasks participants may be asked to complete as shelter service workers.
    • The “Feeding Activity Introduction” will familiarize participants with basic information about Red Cross feeding, the types of feeding the organization provides, and the tasks that are performed by the Mass Care Feeding Activity during a disaster response.

If you are interested in attending either of the above sessions, or if you have questions about the need for volunteers or how the American Red Cross responds in your community, contact the Nashville Area chapter’s disaster program manager at

Officials said it helping the American Red Cross goes beyond volunteering your time – you’re helping someone in their hour of need.

“It’s all about reducing human suffering to the best of our ability, and with our network and the volunteer workforce that we cultivate, we’re able to help fill some of the gaps,” said Pipes.